Spin: Tex headed to the Angels
For those of you in fantasy mascot leagues, the Rally Monkey just got an upgrade. With Mark Teixeira's going to the Angels in exchange for Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek, Big Tex's value sees a nice increase. He's very familiar with Angel Stadium and the AL West from his days in Texas. In 16 games during the past three years at Angel Stadium, Teixeira has six home runs and 13 RBIs and hit .273. He should immediately help give some protection for Vladimir Guerrero.
Teixeira is owned in every league except in AL-only leagues. But this trade makes him an even more attractive trade target for you in your league. He has struggled somewhat this year, but that's to be expected. He's a career .277 hitter before the All-Star break, but a .296 hitter after. Then you remember what he did last season after he was traded to a contending team. Once he joined Atlanta, he hit .317 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in 54 games for the Braves.
Keeper leagues might want to take a look at Juan Rivera. Now that Kotchman is out of the picture and Teixeira will be a free agent, Rivera could be the Angels' starting first baseman on Opening Day 2009. With Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels already have had a crowded outfield, and Rivera did play at first base once this year. Longtime uber-prospect Brandon Wood is another option, as is Big Tex if the Angels re-sign him.
For Atlanta, Kotchman will become their starting first baseman, and he'll continue to be what he has been in his career: a good average, decent-power first baseman who's among the middle tier of fantasy options. A corner infielder for ESPN's standard mixed leagues. He has hit better than .300 the past two seasons after the All-Star break, so expect that to continue. I project he'll hit .305, eight home runs and 35 RBIs the rest of the way.
Given Atlanta's success with young pitchers, Marek becomes an interesting name for deep NL-only leagues and keeper leagues. A former starter, Marek is a 6-foot-2 right-hander who has been used in the bullpen this season and has two wins and three saves this year. Marek has a 57-to-21 strikeout-to-walk rate and a 3.66 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 46.2 innings.
In an AL-only league, now is when you blow all your free-agent budget or use your No. 1 waiver pick. No one better than Big Tex is coming over. And if you are in a NL-only league and didn't get Sabathia or Harden, you should use your budget or No. 1 waiver pick on Kotchman. No one who would be a significant upgrade over Kotchman is coming over, so make the play now.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price.